Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake


Birthdays are great for so many reasons – you get an entire day to celebrate someone for just being themselves, it’s a good excuse for a party and bubbles, and it’s a great excuse to eat cake! Whether it’s my birthday or that of someone else, birthday cakes are a bit of a big deal for me – I love dreaming them up, making them come to live and (of course) enjoying the finished product.

It was Kevin’s birthday last weekend, and while I spent weeks teasing him that I couldn’t be bothered making him a cake, there was no doubt I’d make him something special. So while he spent the day lifting weights and being fit at a Crossfit competition (as you can tell, I clearly know all the ins and outs of the sport!), I got busy whipping up a special cake to surprise him with when he got home.

Like many people, Kevin’s BIG on chocolate – he loved it way more than I do! So it was a no-brainer that his birthday cake would be absolutely packed with chocolate. But that in itself isn’t particularly special, so I decided to work hazelnuts into the recipe.

The result? A triple-layered chocolate cake infused with hazelnut coffee, stacked and iced with whipped milk chocolate buttercream and finished with a halo of crushed toasted hazelnuts. YUM.

While the batter of the cake itself is based on a super simple chocolate cake recipe (seriously – it’s a one bowl, one mix wonder), I amped up the flavour by replacing the plain coffee used in the mixture with Nespresso’s limited edition Hazelnut Dessert variation. It has a sweet caramel taste with just a hint of hazelnut, making it perfect for this hazelnut birthday cake.

Don’t like coffee? Don’t worry – the coffee used in this recipe (whether you go with the fancy one like I did or your personal favourite) is only there to enhance the chocolate flavour of the cake; the cake doesn’t taste like coffee! Using a flavoured variety will bring all those extra flavours into your finished cake too, helping make it extra special.

As for the milk chocolate buttercream… well, it’s a dream. How could it not be when you literally beat melted milk chocolate into light, fluffy buttercream? Yes, it’s sweet. Yes, it’s a BIG treat. Yes, it’s totally perfect – especially for birthday cakes! The crushed toasted hazelnuts add a bit of interest to the cake, breaking up the sweetness slightly with a little nutty flavour. Plus they make the cake look pretty gorgeous!



Makes one three-layer 6 inch cake



  • 1 cup buttermilk (milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar)
  • 250ml Nespresso Hazelnut Dessert coffee (or your own favourite), cooled
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence


  • 100g butter, softened
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 2/12 – 3 cups icing sugar, sifted


  • Hazelnuts, handful



  1. Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius. Grease and line three 6 inch cake tins.
  2. Make coffee and set aside to cool. Prepare homemade buttermilk and set aside.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Add eggs, vanilla, oil, coffee and buttermilk and mix on a low speed until combined. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute.
  5. Pour into prepare cake tins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool in tins for 5 minutes then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely before icing.


  1. Once completely cool, break chocolate into pieces and melt in microwave in 30 second bursts, mixing between each.
  2. Beat together butter and 2 cups icing sugar until smooth. Add melted chocolate and mix until well combined. Add more icing sugar if too runny. Beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Stack cake layers together, layering with prepared buttercream. Scoop remaining icing on top of stacked cake and spread until cake is covered.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place hazelnuts on baking tray and roasted them in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and place on clean tea towel. Rub lightly to remove loose skins.
  3. Place in a snaplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Scatter nuts across top of cake, pressing lightly into the icing.

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  • Alison

    You always make such an effort and hardly ever get comments. I just want to thank you for your happy blog and cheerful posts.
    Bet if you had a giveaway there would be 53 comments there! Ha!
    Merry Christmas

    • Kirsten

      Thank you Alison, that’s really sweet of you :) Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!